Comments by mathematicians and experts in the field
This book tells for the first time the fascinating story of the biggest theorem ever to have been proved. Mark Ronan graphically describes not only the last few years of the chase and the intriguing characters who led it, but also some of the more interesting byways, including my personal favourite, the one I called “Monstrous Moonshine”.
JOHN H. CONWAY, F.R.S.
von Neumann Chair of Mathematics, Princeton University
A spirit of awe and adventure is marvelously evoked by Mark Ronan in this enthralling little book. I couldn’t put it down, even though I knew how the story ended. … Ronan does a superb job of capturing the excitement of mathematical discovery, as it emerges in a social network of letters and visits, phone calls and lectures, inspired guesses and serendipitous encounters. … Ronan is also an inspired teacher, deftly foreshadowing themes to be developed later, and patiently reminding the reader of ideas introduced earlier. There are several threads here, very skillfully interwoven … Symmetry and the Monster is truly a page-turner.
AMERICAN MATHEMATICAL MONTHLY
reviewed by Professor Ron Solomon, a key participant in the Classification programme
… accessible, artfully written … it stresses the human side of the drama. Though I have been a long-time participant in the story, I found myself learning much in every chapter and not wanting to put the book down.
NOTICES OF THE AMERICAN MATHEMATICAL SOCIETY
reviewed by Professor Robert Griess, who first constructed the Monster
This book tells [a] story … over nearly two and a half millenia, from … the Platonic solids to the complete classification of the finite simple groups. … There is a wealth of historical anecdotes and entertaining stories … The book is aimed primarily at a non-mathematical audience, but … even an expert … may find something new in it.
MATHEMATICAL REVIEWS OF THE AMERICAN MATHEMATICAL SOCIETY
reviewed by Professor Robert Wilson, who participated in the creation of the ATLAS
In this remarkable [book], Mark Ronan takes on the biggest and most difficult theorem in mathematics … In just 250 small-format pages, he covers the whole history of finite simple groups, from their discovery by Galois in the theory of equations, … to the amazing discovery of the 26 sporadic simple groups beyond those arising from Galois theory and the Lie families. On the way, we meet some jewels of geometry that range from the regular polyhedra to the Leech lattice, and some of the most colorful figures in the mathematical pantheon, from Evariste Galois to John Conway. … I admire his handling of [the subject] … technical terms are avoided where a more evocative English phrase exists. This informal language … is the only way that outsiders can be given an overview of this vast field-a field that occupies thousands of pages when all the mathematical details are filled in.
SOCIETY FOR INDUSTRIAL AND APPLIED MATHEMATICS
Reviewed by Professor John Stillwell, author of numerous books on mathematics
[This book] is written in non-technical language and yet conveys the excitement of a great mathematical discovery usually accessible only to professional mathematicians. The author knew many of the contributors, and this brings a nice personal touch to the narrative.
Ronan unfolds this story with admirable verve and clarity … [His] exposition includes entertaining glimpses of the personalities involved in this extraordinary quest.
THE TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
Ronan tells a good story, and in doing so he paints a convincing picture of how mathematicians conduct their research. … I greatly enjoyed this book, and I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in group theory and its history.
LONDON MATHEMATICAL SOCIETY
Symmetry and the Monster tells the story of a decades-long project in which dozens of mathematicians joined forces against a problem of extraordinary difficulty … [It] succeeds in bringing to the fore an aspect of mathematics that some popularizers miss-that math is not a science of monuments, but a living tradition as vibrant as physics or ethics or law …
Ronan does a good job of describing the mathematics in broad strokes and giving a flavor of what is happening and – more importantly – why mathematicians get excited about these questions.
MATHEMATICAL ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA